Monday, 24 October 2011

From Summer to Winter in a Flash

This year summer just did not want to end here in Slovenia. I liked this fact very much and tried to take it in as much as possible.
I was still swimming in the Adriatic Sea at the beginning of October and had a great warm weekend on Slovenian coast. The initial plan was to visit Skocjan Caves - an UNESCO heritage site, but since weather was simply too perfect to spend the day underground, M. and I unanimously decided to head for the charming Slovenian coast town of Piran. We figured any of the gloomy winter days will be just fine for exploring the caves.
In the end we had a great day enjoying the warm sun and fresh local sea food.

Both of the places mentioned Piran and Skocjan Caves are well worth visiting and deserve a separate post each.

We were glad we decided the way we did. Even more so after a few days, when temperatures dropped for 15 degrees in one afternoon. Another few days later snow covered most mountains higher than 1.000 meters above sea level.

Now every morning temperatures drop below zero degrees Celsius and winter is definitely knocking on the doors, or as my favourite author keeps saying - Winter is coming. Well actually at the end of last week, it looked as if it has arrived already - there was snow everywhere.

The interesting thing is, even nature looks like it didn't realise this yet. Leaves are still green on most of trees. Last week's snow was breaking trees all over the place because leaves didn't even turn to autumn colours, let alone started to fall off.
If we weren't picking apples just the other day, I would think autumn is an imaginary time of year that happens only in fairytales.


Thursday, 20 October 2011

Arriving to Corfu

Corfu - the northernmost of the six main Ionian islands is also supposed to be the greenest of them all. It has been a crossroad where many different nations and cultures have been mixing for centuries. It is still a bit like that today.

We had arranged a reservation of an apartment in the town of Pirgi which is inseparably connected to a bit more famous party town of Ipsos. This town is actually a Greek version of Ibiza. If you are wondering what is the cheapest way to get to Corfu, you should check out one of my previous posts, but if you still prefer Spain, there are always many cheap flights to Ibiza available from many destinations around Europe.

This time our chosen mean of transport was a ferry from Venice to the town of Corfu (Kerkyra). Pirgi (or Pyrgi) is located 15 kilometres north of this largest town on the island of Corfu.

From the first look of the island I did not know what exactly to think of it - it was dark when we arrived. I guess this might be the main reason we were quite impressed with our apartments when we saw them. There was a nicely lit pool in front of the house with a well stocked bar standing right next to it.

Even in the morning apartments with a rather fancy pool looked quite nice - from afar that is.
When I took a closer look it was evident everything was put together with little attention to detail. Tiles around the pool were not put in place very accurately and quite a few of them were already broken (laying on a pile in a corner). There was also a new LED lighting installed on the rail around the pool which might have even looked nice in dark, but in daylight all the wiring was visible and everything was attached with large silicone blobs. It also did not look very rain resistant - luckily it does not rain all that often in Greece...

This trend could be noticed with most of the places lined up by the main road across from the beach in the towns of Pyrgi and Ypsos. However I am pretty sure many of the visitors do not even notice this. Most of those places were empty throughout the day and filled up well after dusk when such "details" are less obvious.

Since we were usually exploring the island during the day, we did not mind those things all that much. However if we wanted to do the exploring, we had to rent some kind of transport - we opted for a couple of scooters.
We visited some really nice places and idyllic beaches, but more on that in another post...


Monday, 17 October 2011

Ferry deck passenger tips

Travelling as a deck passenger on a ferry is one of the cheapest ways of travel. Many people try to avoid it because they are afraid it would be too uncomfortable and rent a cabin instead. I think everyone who tried camping before, should be just fine as a deck passenger.

Those on a tight budget have another option: "Airtype Economy Seats". Those seats look like airplane seats put in a large room (hence the name) - usually with air conditioning turned to maximum.
Those seats might seem quite comfortable at first, but trying to get a good night sleep in one of them is a whole different thing - usually they can not be put into a horizontal position. That is why I prefer to use my sleeping bag on the floor and travel as a deck passenger - it can be quite comfortable and is definitely the cheapest way of travelling long distances with a ferry.

However if you do not have a problem with the things mentioned and don't like the wind in your hair while sleeping on the open deck, those seats might be a very affordable option.

There are a few things you should keep in mind while traveling as a deck passenger on a ferry:

  • Try to board the ferry amongst the first to be able to reserve a good spot for spending the night. Keep in mind the sun, wind and engine noise.

  • Pack a sleeping bag to keep you warm during the night and a sleeping bag pad (those self inflatable ones are the best choice) for making the hard deck a bit softer.

  • A hammock can be a useful alternative to a sleeping bag pad. Keep in mind there are usually not many suitable places for tying it up on a ferry.

  • The crew will let you sleep on the floor of inside corridors in case of bad weather. Otherwise there are only a few places available inside - depends on crew tolerance.

  • It can get windy and cold even during summer months in the middle of the Mediterranean. Pack a windjacket or some other warm alternative.

  • Food and drinks on a ferry can be quite expensive for what you get. Buy at least some of your own supplies before boarding.

  • Pack something to keep you occupied during the trip (e.g. a good book, card or board games). Do not count on internet or mobile phone network connections.

  • If you are traveling as a large group, it might be smart to consider renting a small cabin together. You can all store your luggage there and use the shower and toilet if you feel the need.

Need another tip on how to get the lowest possible price for a cabin? Check out the link to one of my previous posts.

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